We’ve discussed ticks and the diseases they transmit in a previous blog, but did you know using the wrong flea & tick topical can be just as dangerous? We often see cats presenting with adverse reactions after being given products formulated for dogs. We also see reactions in both dogs and cats from applying certain over the counter brands, overdosing, and using a topical along with dips.



Symptoms of adverse reactions can vary depending on which product is used. They can range from mild to severe. Here are a few symptoms to watch for:

  • Lethargy or depression
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Skin irritations- itching, redness, rash, burn
  • Ataxia- stumbling, dizziness, “acting like they are drunk”
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia- low body temperature
  • Hypoglycemia- low blood sugar
  • Hypersalivation- excessive drooling



If you notice your pet having an adverse reaction, you can start by bathing with a grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (ex: Dawn®). Then, call your veterinarian for further instructions. It is important to know which product was used and the active ingredients, so have the packaging available when you call. Depending on the severity of the reaction, the pet may need to be hospitalized. Supportive care, such as IV fluids or anti-seizure medications, may be necessary.


Always read product labels thoroughly before application. Some products should not be applied to pets that have diabetes, are pregnant, lactating, on certain medications, aged, or debilitated. Make sure you have the correct dose for your pet’s weight. Be cautious when buying over the counter products as they do not have the same safety standards. Wear gloves and/or wash hands when applying a flea & tick topical and when washing them off the pet. Keep children away from pets until the topical has dried. It is very important not to apply products on cats that are formulated for dogs.

Invest in an emergency first-aid kit for your pet. Here are a few items to include for poisonings and toxin exposure:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting)
  • A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
  • Saline eye solution (to flush eyes)
  • Artificial tear ointment (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
  • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
  • A muzzle (to protect against pain, fear- or excitement-induced biting)
  • A pet carrier (to isolate or transport a pet)
  • Rectal Thermometer (normal rectal temperature is 100-102.5)

If there’s any question on which product you should use on your pets, or if you think your pet may be having an adverse reaction, give us a call at 751-2753.